Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cocooning and Connection

It’s another gorgeous, sunny autumn day here. Yesterday, grading papers in the sunshine in the protected corner of the back yard was theraputic and helped me with my goal of resetting my attitude. As the reality settles in about just how long a slog this is going to be, I’m struggling with my perspective. I’m still enjoying the small pleasures that were so wonderful after surgery and still appreciating how tremendously lucky we have been throughout every stage of this process. At the same time, the contrast between my life a month ago and now is stark. However, the distance I’ve come is remarkable and focusing on the positives here is the order of the day. I’ll get there.

H asked if the taping of my shoulder is like the volleyball players in the Olympics. It’s exactly the same thing and the therapist even mentioned that while she was doing the taping. In my case, the tape is keeping the shoulder blade lifted a bit. The effect is powerful: I could drive our manual transmission car with the shoulder taped and can brush my teeth with one hand for the first time since surgery; sleeping is vastly more comfortable. The area in which there just isn’t control over what the arm does is vastly reduced. The only downside comes from how much the ends curl and the tape peels. The therapist said each taping would last about three days, and we go back again tomorrow.

Right after the surgery, especially, my and our impulse was to hunker down at home and cocoon together. At the same time, the urge to be connected to others was strong—even when, at least then, we didn’t have much energy to spare to actually see people. This blog and the responses to it have been a lifeline. Being able to stay connected to people, knowing you’re all out there and rooting for recovery, is sustaining. There are parts of this that are solitary endeavors, but not as many as you’d think, with the support and encouragement flowing in. Not to mention the good advice and the constant reinforcement to pay attention to the pace of this and not rush it. That has made a big difference in helping me keep my eye on the goal, which is full long-term recovery. In short bursts, I’m a pretty good facsimile of my old self, especially if I have my right hand in my pocket or resting on a table. Before and after those bursts, not quite so much. However, the bursts get longer every day and the time between them shorter. The progress isn’t directly linear, but it is all in the same direction.

So, thank you for staying in contact. It means a lot. Without it, the isolating aspects of this would have extracted a bigger toll. We are in the debt of all of you. Happy Sunday.

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